Alumni Mentor Students in the Art of the Business Meal

Kristian Gargasz chats with students at the Business Etiquette Luncheon.

In today’s fiercely competitive job market and economy, today’s graduates need every skill they can acquire to get an edge on the competition. Toward that goal, the College’s Career and Scholarship Center and the CSI Alumni Association teamed up last Friday to present “The Business Etiquette Luncheon.”

View the CSI Today Photo Gallery.

The two-hour event gave a capacity group of 58 CSI students the opportunity to enjoy a five-course professional business lunch, while a CSI alumni member at their table offered helpful suggestions on the proper way to conduct themselves during a real-life business meal situation. Beyond the one-on-one interaction with alumni, who are seasoned business professionals, the attendees also enjoyed a presentation from the Career and Scholarship Center’s Nina Long, who, between courses, shared more valuable information regarding the proper behavior in such a scenario.

Francesca Navarro, a junior studying Business Management with a minor in Corporate Communications, was one of the student attendees. When asked what she hoped to get out of the luncheon, she said, “I hope to develop the ability to go to an interview and present myself adequately, and if it is a dinner, so that I can have good communications skills and not offend anyone in the process.”

Another student, Michael Wallace, a sophomore majoring in Biology, added that, when he eventually faces a potential employer, he wanted to be able to “have a good interview and get a good job.”

Explaining the importance of the luncheon, Joanne Hollan, Associate Director of the Career and Scholarship Center, commented that “The business dinner and the interview that takes place along with it are the latest trend in how students are recruited into today’s job market. Many of the larger companies are now holding this kind of ‘Interview Day’ where students are invited to the company for the entire day to conduct a series of interviews with staff including the business interview luncheon or dinner. It can be a deal maker if done correctly. It can also be a deal breaker if students are not well prepared on how to conduct themselves during the business interview meal. In order to help our students be as competitive as possible, especially in today’s job market, The Career and Scholarship Center wants to provide students with these “career building” skills that will set them apart from other college graduates conducting a job search.”

As for the CSI alumni who were on hand to share their expertise, the general goal was to help prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s job interviews.

Frances Melendez, PhD ’80, ’94, the Deputy Director of the MA in Mental Health Counseling program in the Psychology Department, who received an AA in Liberal Arts and Sciences and a BA in Psychology from CSI, noted, “I think, as a CSI alumna, that it’s important that students see that CSI alumni can be successful. It’s also for them to understand what the real world is like–how to interview, what the etiquette is, how they should prepare themselves, to empower them to do a good job on an interview.

Joe Ricciutti ’94, President of the Staten Island Yankees and a Foundation Board Member, who CSI graduated with a BS in Business Management, commented, “Being a CSI graduate and a member of the business community, any opportunity that I can give back, even if it’s just a little advice, I’m happy to do it. Given how competitive the job market is, it’s tough enough getting a good job, nevermind being right on the cusp and losing it because you did something [wrong] at an interview.”

Another alumnus was Kristian Gargasz ’06, who received a BS in International Business from CSI, eventually launching Grand Prix America, the North American offset of Grand Prix-Trading House, the European Dance and Fitness Apparel Company. He explained that “As students… we were educated very well, [but] as far as circumstances in the real world, we had little practice. When it came time to face real people in business we didn’t have the proper scenario in order to speak and articulate with those whom we were going to work with in the future. This [event] gives [students] an opportunity to practice and step forward into the professional world.”

Also on hand was Carole Gervasi ’02, Vice President of Online Degree Programs for the College Bound Network and a CSI alumni Board member with a BS in Communications from the College, who said, “CSI has definitely given my company a lot of interns over the years…I’m here not only to get an idea from the students in terms of what their opinions are of the outside world, but also how I can help them by bringing all of my expertise and experience, and see how I can recruit some more potential interns into my company because we’ve had such success with them in the past.

For the last seven years, the Business Etiquette Luncheon has been a part of the many events and services offered by the Career and Scholarship Center to help students succeed in the job market, and the event seems to draw more student participation every year. With that in mind, although, as Hollan mentioned, this is an usually an annual event, she said that “We had an overwhelming response to this event [this year] and would like to do another one in the spring, if we can.”

For more information of the many services that the Career and Scholarship Center has to offer, visit their Website at http://www.csi.cuny.edu/career/index.html or call them at 718.982.2300.

CSI alumni who are interested in participating in future Etiquette luncheons should contact the Alumni Relations Office at 718.982.2290.

This event was generously funded by the Campus Activities Board with Student Activity Fee funds.

Leave a Reply